A Dialogue Through Centuries – Traditional Chinese Watermark Woodcut Prints since AD 868.

A Dialogue Through CenturiesTraditional Chinese Watermark Woodcut Prints since AD 868.

Exhibition: 1st - 21st February 2017
Opening Reception: 1st February 2017,  6 - 9pm
Curator: Jin Songmin

The earliest form of printmaking is the woodcut watermark duplicated print. The world's first existing print is in the Diamond Sutra, made in the 9th year of the Xiantong Period of the Tang Dynasty (AD 868), which is now in the British Library, London. Professor Lu Ping from the Central Academy of Fine Arts authorised the repair and copy of the original version. The duplicate, which is to be exhibited, is now in the art gallery of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, China. 

Chinese traditional watermark woodcuts were engraved by craftsmen who followed a design by an artist. One knife would be used to carve the entire plate. The technique was already advanced during the Tang Dynasty, yet became more sophisticated throughout the Wanli and Tianqi Periods of the Ming Dynasty. During the Ming Dynasty, the books and paintings of the Ten Bamboo Rooms revealed the best of the ink’s permeability in the halo of colours.

This exhibition is divided into three parts:

Chinese ancient print

2,000 years after the original was created, Lu Ping’s version of the Diamond Sutra has restored the defects existing in the original version. Walk into the British Library and Sunny Art Centre to have a conversation with time, and to discover the traditions of Chinese printmaking within a British context.


Modern classics

Between the 1960s and 1980s, artists began to work without preliminary designs. Instead, they used knives directly on the wood. Without the design in pen, imitations or copies were difficult to produce. Instead, prints were achieved using a mimeograph, resulting in different effects from previous techniques. 


Contemporary woodcut

After 1980, artists, including Bao Tao and Cui Dezheng who are to be exhibited, continued to use the traditional technique of watermark woodcut. In particular, Paint was applied to each plate individually, resulting in unique designs. If we consider the core values of watermark woodcut, we may begin to appreciate the extraordinary importance, and fortuitous impact, the technique had on printmaking throughout history. By considering the work of contemporary artists, it is evident how the traditional method of watermark woodcut printing is being used alongside contemporary concepts.

Bao Tao expresses his interpretation of the identity of women in the language of art through the topic of “the other”. He argues that, to modern society, women are “the other” and therefore, problems pertaining to them should repeatedly be raised and discussed to find a solution.

Cui Dezheng’s work explores the spirit of “acquiring knowledge through the study of the essence of things”. The elegance and emotions of Ukiyo-e and the rational expression of modern Western abstraction are all wittingly affected by “the other”.


公元868 —— 2016 穿越千年的对话
—— 中国传统水印木刻版画

展览时间:2017年2月1号 - 2月27号
开幕酒会:2017年2月1号 晚上6点至9点
展览地点: Sunny Art Center, 30 Gray's Inn Road,  London, WC1X 8HR
策展人: 金嵩敏
参展艺术家: 卢平,鲍涛,崔德政

最早的版画形式是木刻水印复制版画,世界上第一张现存可考版画是我国唐代咸通九年(公元868年)刻制的《金刚经》扉页画《说法图》,是由技工根据画家画稿刻印出来的版画,原版现存于伦敦大英图书馆。后大英图书馆授权中央美术学院传统工作室卢平老师将原版修复复制, 复制版现存于中央美术学院美术馆, 此次展览我们将展示这幅复原版画。中国传统的水印复制木刻是由技工刻印画家的画稿而成,技师只用一把刀完成整个版的刻制。这项技术从唐代起就很发达,至明万历、天启年间,技术更为精美。当时《十竹斋书画谱》的刻工们发扬水印的彩晕墨化的手法,成就尤为显著。


中国古代版画:2000年后卢平版的金刚经修复了原版的损伤,让我们做个与时间的对话,走进大英图书馆和Sunny Art Centre 来发现这两者之间的联系与变化。


当代木刻:两位80后青年艺术家仍然选择继续使用中国最传统的水印木刻的技法来呈现当代的绘画观念。如果深究水印木刻这一传统技法背后的核心或精神,大 概可以捕捉到一种在版画创作中极为可贵的偶然效果。偶然性这一元素是水印木刻的技法所天然具有的,使用水印木刻的版画艺术家,在制版之后付诸印刷时, 每一版印出的效果都不尽相同。